It’s been over a week since I ran my last race, and almost as long since the last blog post. After an eventful week in several states and a trip to the ER I am finally headed back home to enjoy a little over three full days sleeping in my own bed. But the excitement of the last week is for another post this one is about my trip to Leesburg, Virginia and the Super Spartan.
As I prepped and put this race on my calendar somewhat haphazardly less than a month ago I did not relish in the fact this would be a flat race, and also would be held in a hot and humid climate. I went into this race with little to no expectations. It marked my third weekend in a row racing and the conclusion of an aggressive training plan the last two weeks. As I drove down to the race with Chris Davis he repeatedly told me I would do well. I had my doubts. Carrie Adams shared Chris’s sentiment when we were reunited for the first time since the 2011 World Championships in Texas last December.
The night before the race I enjoyed a dinner with Carrie and we caught up on life and all that has changed in the last nine-months. It’s amazing how quickly life can change and our journeys take completely different directions. As the race morning approached I looked around at the familiar faces of my competitors and picked out the “speed horses” in the crowd. I learned in the last couple of races I am definitely a closer and not a speed horse.
I had one goal for the race, to run my own race. Each race I give myself a placing goal and for this race I secretly hoped to be able to pull out another top 10 finish. The ceremonial AROO AROO AROO GO! sounded and we were off. Quickly people passed me left and right but I knew I was on my right pace. As the first obstacles approached a misplaced foot on the first over and I felt my shin crash down on the top of the wall. Not the best way to start a race, especially one I was going to have to run the whole time.
As the race continued on we made a turn, ducked into the woods and I found myself on the one uphill section of the race. It was almost a mile of moderate grade uphill. I looked at one runner as I passed and said, “You have to work with what you are good at.” I passed several runners over the next mile as they were forced into a walk. I just continued with my mountain shuffle up and up. Often when I race the same song plays in my head with the lyrics “What goes up must come down, spinning wheels round and round.” It is what gets me up those mountain shuffles the thought that at any moment I might reach the peak and be able to make my way down and alpine decent. This race, not so much mountainous but still found the manta playing in my head as I shuffled up the hill.
The highlight of the race definitely was the horse jumps scattered throughout the race. The Race Director a few days before the race had said there would be over 75 obstacles and well he wasn’t kidding. As we headed out of the woods a field opened up with dozens of horse jumps of different shapes and sizes. As I climbed, rolled, and jumped over the barriers I had the rare opportunity to see where my competitors were. I found myself gaining ground and actually passing some of the women!
The miles wore on and the obstacles were scattered throughout the course. As I continued to run through the Virginia Horse Park and fields of high grass, many times I felt as though I was high stepping. I just kept on my pace and kept moving. I had been told the day before the race was actually just over ten miles, a key piece of insight that helped me over the last couple of miles. The last aid station at mile 6 we made sure to grab an extra cup of water as I ran through. Going into the last mile and a half I had made of much ground, when once I was in nearly fifteenth place I now found myself somewhere in the top ten, where I was exactly I did not know.
As the last set of obstacles approached I nailed the traverse wall moving quickly and with one miscalculation yet again missed the spear throw, this is when Andi Hardy passed me going into the rope climb. I pressed through the last set of burpees and scrambled up the rope, Andi was just ahead of me. I would cross the finish line two seconds after her and propel myself into a 5th place finish for the day.
For me not a bad effort, especially considering I had gone in saying I was not a flat course runner. Sometimes I even surprise myself. Check out my Gaspari Nutrition Blog Post – It’s Not Over Until It’s Over to read about my second place finish on Sunday.